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  1. ITV Report

FSA investigates after nut traces were found in spices

The FSA is testing ground cumin and cumin seeds for traces of nut protein. Photo: Paul Mayall/DPA/Press Association Images

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is investigating whether traces of nuts have ended up food products that have not been labelled for nut allergy sufferers.

The agency has recalled two products - a batch of Bart ground cumin and Morrisons Fajita Meal Kit - after they tested positive for undeclared almond protein.

A spokesperson said there was no evidence of a link between the two products, and that there was no need for allergy sufferers to avoid all cumin products

The FSA began testing cumin imports for peanut and almond protein after alerts in the US and Canada, but said none of the products recalled there had been distributed in the UK.

The Food Standards Agency, pictured above, is testing cumin imports to the UK. Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Professor Chris Elliott, who led the government inquiry into the horse meat fraud that hit British supermarkets in 2013, said the cases were serious because they threatened the lives of nut allergy sufferers.

He told the Independent: "This is the first real test of the UK food supply system since the horse meat crisis and it's actually much, much more serious."

It's much more serious because in the whole horse meat scandal nobody got ill and nobody died because of it.

But if you happen to be allergic to almonds or peanuts there is the potential of getting ill or even dying because of it.

– Professor Chris Elliott, Queen's University

The newspaper reports that a poor cumin harvest in the Gujarat region in India may have resulted in nuts being substituted for the spice, used widely in curries and soups.

The nut traces could have been introduced to cumin exports from India, the Independent claims. Credit: REUTERS/Fayaz Kabli

The FSA announced a recall of a batch of ground cumin manufactured by The Barts Ingredients Company Ltd on 31st January.

On Thursday, Morrisons recalled a batch of Fajita Meal Mix which did not carry precautionary allergen labelling on the seasoning ingredient section. The affected products were marked best before the end of 8 February 2015 to 13 July 2015.

A spokesperson from the Food Standards Agency said:

Currently there is no evidence to link the two alerts on undeclared almond protein, neither is there evidence to link these to the recalls of cumin and cumin containing products in the US.

Investigations are on-going and both the FSA and the food industry are continuing to test cumin and products containing cumin for both undeclared peanut and almond protein.

The FSA has been pro-active in checking for problems with cumin supplies in the UK and will continue to take action to protect consumers.

– food standards agency